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Gemba – try out for sales

Gemba in Sales

Gemba is generally associated with actual place typically at  shop floor in manufacturing and in Agile development right at the sprint teams.

How about using them in Sales.  Some thoughts. Should Sales team simulate customer usage and customer experience and customer communications too. May be yes worth trying out.

Customer usage : How customer tests and uses all features of the product in functional, performance and security aspects. How is the user environment response?  Perhaps Devops has simplified this aspect in major way.

Customer experience : The initial response, feeling. This is quite complex and difficult as this pertains to customer emotions. Perhaps using a third party representative from the same domain will give some idea.

Customer communication : Simulation activity as if customer reacts after release of product into user environment. Here in addition to present requirements, customer will think of using the software vendor for future requirements also if the vendor product behaves as expected or more.

These said, it is easier to simulate above perspectives for existing customer, however for new customers it maya be a challenge. Still it is better to try it out simulating than being at the receiving ends.

Do you agree?



Roles and Responsibilities (RnR). Complimentary or controlling?

Roles and Responsibilities (RnR). Complimentary or controlling?

During initial stages of any organization rather initial phase of any initiative RnR is really a great way to ensure people know what is expected out of them to get the ball moving.  once the game is moving to mid stage (like soccer), player (or people) are expected to offer hand to the other players (members) to move the ball (project) to the Goal post. So RnR should not be limiting after the initial phases.

Depending upon the team’s maturity RnR is mandated or allowed go beyond it. Developers can help testers if their tasks are over to help the testing team quickly cover all test cases. Similarly testers can sit during development phase with testers and help them to ensure the code is less buggy or zero buggy.

Same mindset goes with all teams, Sales and account management teams should understand the dev teams’ capabilities and should not over commit. Sales team should also communicate  complete requirements with dev teams like non functional, compliance and information security requirements.

Dev teams should involve sales / account management teams periodically in letting know of the progress of the product.

Communication and respecting people are cornerstone of successful product development.

Trust builds in compliance

False positives in compliance

Clear articulation of compliance requirements and benefits need to be articulated  to development and non technical teams. This will result in dual benefit of compliance with less documentation. It can be ISO, CMMI or any regulation for that matter. Best still is to automate the compliance requirements by inbuilt pointers into Definition of done / checklists for the development and technical teams. If the project management tool can capture the compliance or otherwise aspect much better. Some thing like Audit trails can be run to find out compliance percentage.

If the teams understand compliance requirements clearly, they might even come out with innovative ways of building in compliance during complete SDLC stage. Trusting teams will go a long way in making compliance cost-effective

Defeat the defeatist attitude

iDumbaikku iDumbai paDuppar iDumbaikku
iDumbai paDAa davar

(To) sufferings, create sufferings, by sufferings
these(people), don’t suffer

Whenever there is a misery, (leaders) don’t suffer by this, rather they choose to create hardship for the misery.

Great saint poet revealed this powerful gem of a wisdom 2000 years ago in his work Tirukkural.

It is relevant in today’s constantly changing world. Changes and complications are constantly happening in the business world today in a rapid manner. It is here the great leaders takes them and convert it into opportunities. While principles like embracing change is the beginning to handle and manage the changes for business survival, the leaders create change by thinking ahead of the curve and innovating. Honestly when no product or solution can expect to live beyond 10 years it is all the more important to identify and innovate ahead of the curve. convert risks into opportunities and give risk to risks.

Top down or bottom up apparoach

Top Down or Bottom up approach?

Initiatives will be successful if adapted with systems approach. Top down is a good case if there’s a new change that touches the cultural aspects. For example if you do transformation to Agile development from waterfall development there’s a need for Top down approach. Senior management should bring out the benefits and effectiveness with clear articulation. Middle management need to be provide with training and authority to take the Agile program forward.

However if its Kaizen / new technique is estimation / tool for development bottom up will be more effective. Because the Senior management may not be hands on tools or techniques that are currently effective. Hence these changes better start at bottom level and slowly move up to the middle level as per the merits and context. Middle management may appraise the senior management and get the nod for globalizing the new methods across the organization.

Sometimes though, a combination would do wonders.  Particularly in pre sales, marketing, sales and UX departments, mix-up approach would be very beneficial.

DO you agree?

Contexts are important, not polarization

Same thing can be both a bottleneck and a flow.  How can some thing remain a hurdle and an enabler.

In the Pole vault example the player pegs the pole after the run-up and swings to the top trying to reach the bar with aim of crossing the bar. The Goal here is crossing the bar without displacing it from the poles.

Initially during run up and reaching the bar, pole served as a tool and a process of swinging.  Pole was an enabler. After reaching the bar, the pole vaulter will need to let go off the pole to cross the wooden bar. Here the pole is a bottleneck.  Player gets rid off the pole and cross the bar and reaches the Goal. Within a span of few seconds same object worked as tool, process and a bottleneck.

This is so true in any game like for example a soccer,  where the center forwards want to hold the football and keeps passing between their teammates. Finally one player gets rid off the ball but with a focus and direction. The Goal is literally achieved.

In Software development parlance we can map these processes to usage of checklists, referring of process assets, best practices by developers. This phase all these are artifacts. However for an adept developer he works on his own experience and indeed goes beyond the checklists and best practices to delight the customer with product quality. Here, adept developer gets better off than the lists and goes beyond for delivering innovative products.

Will not be nice if we work on contexts on usage of processes rather than getting polarized with “either use or throw”.

Happy sporting!

Ways to maintain customer trust

What are some indicators that shows customers are considering alternative to your product / service. Can we overcome those.

1.Perhaps just a curious try to sample  other options  – On the surface of it the company may not recognize that customers are trying options. In fact customers could have been very happy with the company, but company needs to think and asses what are market offerings / new entry in their product domains. This might at least provide an opportunity to the company if they need to consider new ideas that are coming into their segments but not offered by them.

2.Customers sense their vendor is not showing consistent commitment and service levels are down – Need to analyze and ensure short-term and long-term trust is reestablished. Still it is possible to get back customer into trusting the company

3.Dissatisfied customers – Frequent service level failures will lead to customer choosing competitors. Almost impossible to get back  unless a breakthrough innovation in product quality, service level and commitment are delivered.